In the interests of getting through TSA in Orlando as quickly as possible and making my way over to my gate so I could find some iced coffee and a banana, I disconnected my insulin pump and put it through the x-ray machine, caring very little if it melted in the transaction because I was melting in the transaction.
The tram to the gates was arriving just as I was finished at security, so I grabbed my pump off the tray and held it in my hand. dragging my bag to the shuttle. Just after “stand CLEAR of the closing doors,” I reached around to the top of my hip and reconnected my infusion set, sticking the pump into my pocket.
A woman boarded the tram, her infant daughter strapped to her chest. I noticed her noticing me while I reconnected my pump.
“Is that an insulin pump? Sorry – my son has diabetes and I recognized the pump.”
“Oh, yes.” I searched her wrist for an orange or green CWD bracelet but didn’t see one. “Were you here for the conference?”
She smiled. “I’ve never heard of it, and I live right here in Orlando. What’s it called?”
“Friends for Life. It’s a diabetes conference for families with diabetes. Lots of kids with type 1 attend with their parents, and lots of adults like me who go to connect with other adults who have diabetes. It’s really nice, like diabetes camp. Community helps, you know?”
She nodded, and the baby on her chest flapped her arms happily. “My son goes to camp. He loves it. But I’ve never heard of the conference before.”
I reached into my bag and fished around for a pen. Nothing. Checked my pockets for a business card. Nothing. The tram was about to stop and ditch us at the gates, leaving me just a few seconds to try and explain how a few days in Florida can change your life for the better.
“What’s the conference called again?”
I grabbed the edge of my green bracelet and pulled it off my wrist.
“I know this seems weird to hand you a slightly-used conference bracelet, but the URL for the conference website is on it. Everyone who has diabetes wears one of these green bracelets. You see one of these and that person understands, you know?” I handed her the bracelet, pointing at the website address. “I hope this doesn’t seem creepy. It’s just an amazing experience, being around all of those other families, and it would be great to have you and your family check it out, if that’s your thing.”
She took the bracelet and put it in her pocket. “This is very nice of you. Thank you. I’ll check it out for sure.”
The tram doors opened and we stepped out.
“Where are you headed home to?”
“And you come here just for that conference?”
I thought about the week that had just passed, when I was surrounded by people who redefined family.
“All the way here. Green bracelets are pretty awesome.”
She waved, and her baby waved, too. “Thank you for passing this along. Safe travels back home. Maybe we’ll see you next year.”
Usually when I board the plane home from Friends for Life, I like to look down at my green bracelet because it reminds me of my PWD tribe. This year, with a flick of the wrist, I was grateful it had found a new home.